Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes Treasury Edition C-49 October 1976

Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes Treasury Edition C-49

My father was a construction estimator and we moved around a lot when I was a kid. By the time I was ten, I had lived in six different houses. House number eight was in Valdez, Alaska, at the end of the Alaska Oil Pipeline, a modular company house in a dusty treeless lot full of modular company houses, with nothing but mountains and forest one way and the ocean the other. I remember being confused walking home from school; unable to distinguish my house from any of the other houses. It was all at once plain and boring and majestic and beautiful; like a trailer park in Wonderland.
There was only one grocery store in Valdez, and one magazine rack, and the one store never got regular comics; only treasury editions, and when they did, it was like a mini-Christmas for me. I would buy each one as they trickled in, read and then reread each one over and over, and then patiently wait for the next one. At that point it didn’t matter who was featured in the comic, it was the only comic I would be getting. This is how I first read Captain Marvel (the Shazam version), Dr. Strange and Master of Kung Fu. When one of my beloved team books showed up in treasury form, it was a special treat.
I was familiar with the Legion through the comics I had previously read, but that Legion was the 70s disco-ish Legion as designed by Dave Cockrum and then drawn by Mike Grell. On the cover of the treasury was a beautiful two-page Mike Grell spread of those characters flying off into the sky in their cut-away spandex and karate gis; all very future-y at the time. I was psyched. I looked at the cover.
“A Full-Length Super-Hero Novel!” I was just starting to read ‘real books’ at the time and that this comic was actually a novel was intriguing to me.
The story was confusing at first, as it was two issues from the Jim Shooter/ Curt Swan run and not the Legion I knew at all. Where was the sweet Grell art? This looked like an old Superman comic. Why are they all dressed like old-timey superheroes? The Legion was supposed to be from the future, not the 60s.
None of the scifi edge of the 70s Legion was here. They’re fighting a big purple wizard for Pete’s sake!
What saved it for me were the extras. A full blueprint of the Legion Headquarters, including a cell bank so that they can grow clones of the Legion, the Time Cube which allows them to travel through time, and the Legion Post Office which ”receives mail teleported from a postal satellite”. Also, a two-page spread of the wedding of Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy, drawn by Dave Cockrum, with every Legion member and friend of the Legion in it, and a key to who was who on the inside back page. To this day, I can still name almost every Legion member on sight. Sad, huh? I could’ve memorized something useful with that brain space, but instead I can tell Matter Eater Lad from Chemical King, and can explain who Rond Vidar is. When you have nothing else to read for a month, you squeeze every last bit of comicky goodness you can ot of a book.

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